August 28, 2014

How To: Thrive on an elimination diet

Although I am no expert, I thought I would share how our cooking life changed 6 months ago.  In attempt to find out the source of our little guy's tummy trouble, I was put on an elimination diet.  It didn't sound so bad at first.  As we got back in the car I reached for my snack of a cheese stick, almonds and a chocolate granola bar, and realized that I couldn't eat any of it.  What could you possibly eat if you can't eat animal-milk protein, nut, soy, fish & egg free diet or anything that contains trace amounts of it?!  Needless to say panic set in.  But I'm still here and thriving on this diet!

- animal-milk protein, nut, soy, egg, & fish free eating - 

Thriving.......yes, it is possible.

1.  Focus on what you can eat.  Ruminating on what you are missing makes this change seem option-less.  Fear not!  There are many options for you.  You won't be stuck eating carrots and hummus for every meal.  (although I did that basically for the first week month)

If you are on the same diet you can eat as much of the following as you want: (not a complete list)
- pesto tomato pizza homemade...happiness on a plate
- salad
- chicken (grilled, fried in olive oil, bbqed after marinated in Italian dressing, curried, sauteed over rice)
- beef (burgers, taco meat, steak, homemade meatballs, browned)
- any veggie you want
- any fruit you want
- PASTA and the jars of premade pasta sauce
- hot cereal (oatmeal, zoom, malt-o-meal)
- homemade bread (put some applesauce on top or jam or coconut milk and cocoa powder)
- lentils, beans, chili, garbanzo beans, hummus
- sorbet (check the label, few are actually dairy/soy free)
- tea!!
- coffee!
- potatoes (russet, red, yellow, sweet, yams)
- coconut milk (stock up. I mean cans and cans and cans and cans...)
- salsa and guacamole and Juanita's tortilla chips

2.  Find a few treats that work in your new diet.  Because more likely than not this was forced upon you, you need a special treat that only you get to have .  Here are a few delicious treats that I've indulged in over the past months.

- Chocolate milkshake  (inspired by the blogger Meals and Moves' Protein Shake, but tweaked for me. )
                             - 1 frozen banana broken into 4 pieces
                             - 1/3 can of coconut milk
                             - 2 or 3 Tbs cocoa powder
                             - 1/2 cup of cold water
                             - 1 or 2 tsp of sweetener (honey, maple syrup, stevia, sugar, etc.)  optional
                             Blend and savor...add less water to make it more like soft serve.

- Freezing grapes and banana slices are great little treats/snacks for hot days.
- Pesto tomato pizza saved me...
Mexican hot chocolate snicker-doodles...swap the milk for water (yum!)
Wacky cake (thank you creative, depression-era mamas!)

3.  Bring food with you wherever you go.  Often people forget/panic when they remember you actually can't eat anything on the table besides the plates.  Have a few filling "back up" items in your bag like carrots & hummus, fruit & a slice of homemade bread, applesauce etc.

4.  Find a vegan cooking pinterest board and be open minded.  No, you aren't actually eating vegan (remember you get to have meat!), but it will help you out with options for baking/eating/meal planning.  I found most of my treat recipes via vegan searches.

5.  If you don't normally, start cooking.  It is so much easier to control what goes in when you are cooking for yourself rather than eating out.  Start with simple meals, sauteed veggies & meat over rice, chicken tacos with lime juice (tip: use a rotisserie chicken for ultimate ease), spaghetti and baguette sprinkled with olive oil, garlic & basil.   Maybe you'll get fancy and start making falafel.  Don't all those things sound delicious?  Did you already forget you're even on an elimination diet?  If you need menu ideas, please check out my monthly meal posts here, here, and here.  Tip:  Most Italian, Mexican, Indian and Middle Eastern food isn't dripping in contraband food.

Know that this time will probably pass, and the likelihood of being allergic too ALL those things is rare.  When the time comes for adding in new things, it will be so special.  You can do this.  You can!

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